Too Smart By Far

Smarty Moonhak Beats Dongbanui Gangja By Ten Lengths

He announced his arrival by winning the Turkey Jockey Club Trophy before going on to stun Korean racing fans by not only becoming the first two-year old to run in the Grand Prix Stakes but managing to finish third. Today, just six weeks later, Smarty Moonhak [Smarty Jones-Madeira M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)] was back in the Seoul Race Park winner’s circle.

Smarty Moonhak, with Dongbanui Gangja in the background - this was about as close as the double Grand Prix winner got to him

Despite there being thirteen horses lining up for the 2000M handicap, it was billed as a match-race. Dongbanui Gangja, the two-time Grand Prix Stakes winner and former Horse Of The Year and at seven-years-old, still a formidable contender, against the now three-year old Smarty Moonhak. In the end, it was a mismatch.

After a slow start, Dongbanui Gangja (Broken Vow-Maremaid) came around the field in the back straight to take the lead. At one point he had three lengths on the field but, rounding the home-turn, Smarty Moonhak, shrugging off some bumping like an old pro, was asked to quicken slightly and the gap closed almost immediately.

Another reminder as they entered the home straight and the young colt was away. The distance n the line was ten lengths but it could have been more had jockey Shim Seung Tae decided it was absolutely necessary.

Dongbanui Gangja held on for a comfortable second place while long-shot Wind King (Montjeu) was third.

Smarty Moonhak now moves onto five wins from seven starts and a quarter of a million dollars in the bank. His two losses came in his racecourse debut and in the Grand Prix. Where he goes from here though is open to question. If he stays sound, his handicap mark is likely to quickly rise – he carried 57Kg today – and, just like Dongbanui Gangja and Bally Brae before him, he could find himself essentially eliminated from the handicap division.

While his next couple of appearances will almost certainly be in handicaps, the main focus is going to have to be on the few Stakes and Conditions races that are open to foreign-bred horses. The Busan Metropolitan, the KRA Cup Classic and ultimately of course, the Grand Prix are the most likely targets for this year. In the course of this campaign, he will almost certainly run into Mister Park and Tough Win.

It says something about the impact he has had that just one race into his three-year old season, those two are the only rivals on the peninsula that Smarty Moonhak has unfinished business with. He is, of course, yet to meet two-time President’s Cup winner Dangdae Bulpae but this too is likely to happen. On today’s evidence, they are all likely to suffer the same fate as Dongbanui Gangja

Class 1 Handicap – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – January 28, 2012

1. Smarty Moonhak (USA) [Smarty Jones-Madeira M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)] – Shim Seung Tae – 1.3, 1.0
2. Dongbanui Gangja (USA) [Broken Vow-Maremaid (Storm Bird)] – Moon Se Young – 1.4
3. Wind King (NZ) [Montjeu-Blessing (Sir Tristram)0] – Jo In Kwen – 15.9

Distances: 10 lengths/1.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Larrycat (USA) 5. Necromancer (JPN) 6. Celebrate Tonight (USA) 7. Baekjeonmupae (NZ 8. Indian Secret (USA) 9. Out And About (USA) 10. Royal Missile (USA) 11. Mr. Loving Life (USA) 12. Yaho Cat (USA) 13. Adam One (USA)

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